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Browse > Media Type > Short Stories

80 articles

Doka B-100 (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Character – destruction, building up, Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story by Ernest Nagamatsu on the difficult adjustment to civilian life of a group of World War II veterans. Written in the first person voice of an ex-GI named Hamamoto in 1954, "Doka B-100" coveys both Hamamoto's alienation and the welcoming embrace of Little Tokyo Los Angeles . Estranged from his domineering father because of the way he left the service (despite serving heroically in the 442nd , he quit before his time was up) and his choice of social work as an occupation, Hamamoto's wife had decided to go back to her family in Chicago with their daughter to get away from the arguments. Finding a small apartment in Little Tokyo and a part time job in a diner, he finds a niche in starting to counsel the veterans who would gather in a Little Tokyo pool hall. That work eventually leads to a paying job with the …

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Both Alike in Dignity (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Evils of racism, Reunion, War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

Short story by Chester Sakamoto about an elderly Holocaust survivor who mistakenly gets off the bus in Little Tokyo , where he meets an elderly Nisei man. One Sunday, on his weekly visit to a friend in Pasadena, Mr. Muncznik gets off the bus too early and ends up in Little Tokyo. Sitting to get his bearings, he finds himself next to a statue of a Japanese man. Friendly Mr. Sata stops and explains that it is a statue of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who risked his career and safety to help thousands of Jews escape Lithuania during the war. Conversation ensues about each man's wartime experience—Mr. Sata had lived in Little Tokyo before the war and had been sent with his family to Heart Mountain —revealing a startling coincidence.

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Shirley Temple, Hotcha-cha (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Displacement, Heartbreak of betrayal, Isolation, Wisdom of experience
  • Available

Short story by Wakako Yamauchi about a Nisei strandee couple and their difficulties both in wartime Japan and in the resettlement era U.S. Told in the first-person voice of Mie, the story begins in 1939 when Mie is seventeen. As was the case for a sizable minority of Nisei youth, she had been sent to Japan for her education, having arrived there three years prior. She attends a boarding school and spends holidays with the Kodamas, a wealthy childless couple who are family friends. On a holiday, she meets Jobo Endo, a fellow Nisei, who is in Japan attending college. Courtship ensues. Recognizing the difficulties they would face in Japan as the war heats up, Jobo suggests that Mie ask the Kodamas for money to return to the U.S. However, the Kodamas had hoped to marry off Mie to a grand nephew. Though they consent to Jobo and Mie getting …

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The Man with the Bulging Pockets (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Fulfillment, Greed as downfall, Optimism – power or folly, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

Short story by Toshio Mori centering on an old man at Tanforan who becomes enormously popular with children by passing out a seemingly limitless supply of candy to them on his daily walks around the camp. His actions and popularity inspire jealousy in another old man, who also begins passing out candy, while spreading bad stories about the first old man. The story originally appeared in the 1944 holiday edition of The Pacific Citizen and was republished in Mori's 1979 short story collection The Chauvinist and Other Stories and in slightly different from, as a part of his 1978 novel Woman from Hiroshima .

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Time of Decay (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Desire to escape, Family—blessing or curse, Loneliness as destructive force, Losing hope
  • Widely available

Short story by Ferris Takahashi of an Issei woman whose family puts her in a cold nursing home against her will at the end of her life. Told from the perspective of the woman, she recalls her forced removal and incarceration in unspecified concentration camps and other episodes in her life.

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Nasakenai (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Facing reality, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • Limited availability

Short story about an Issei couple in the San Francisco Bay area in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor . Both work as servants—the husband as a gardener and the wife as a maid—for prominent white families in a wealthy adjacent community and support three children at home, with a son in the army. After the attack, the husband goes to work and is assured by his employer that she will not fire him despite community pressure to do so. But the wife, who has worked for the family of a prominent lawyer for over a decade, is fired, since the lawyer represents a farming organization that supports anti-Japanese actions. An Issei gardener who works for the same family is also fired. Afterwards, the wife visits briefly with the family of the gardener and goes home to work on her garden, vowing that things will be okay.

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Makapuu Bay (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Disillusionment and dreams, Facing reality, Lost love, Names – power and significance, Reunion
  • Widely available

Short story by Wakako Yamauchi about a divorced middle-aged Japanese American writer who goes to a literary conference in Honolulu where she runs into an old boyfriend from the war years. In flashback, we learn that Sachiko—nicknamed "Pinky" while incarcerated in Poston with her father—had met Mitch Ochiai at the camp swimming hole, where she asked him to teach her to swim. They become a couple and continue to see each other when she resettles in Chicago while he attends the Military Intelligence Service Language School in Minnesota. But her father's illness—and eventual death—forces her to return to Poston, while Mitch heads off to war, and they lose touch. Sachiko ends up marrying Joe Noda, her block manager, and settling in Los Angeles. Though Sachiko is divorced and Mitch has never married, a rekindling of the romance in Hawai'i is not to be.

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The Long Journey and the Short Ride (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Darkness and light, Motherhood, Optimism – power or folly, Reunion
  • Available

Seemingly autobiographical story by Toshio Mori about the author and his brother, a paralyzed veteran of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team , recalling the latter's visit to Topaz prior to shipping out for combat in Europe. The author and his mother get a pass to leave Topaz for the first time since they had arrived in order to see the brother off at the train station. Their apprehensions about being outside the camp are eased by a white family—who had also just seen a son off to war—who offer them a ride to town. Shifting back to the present of the story, the author notes the successful recovery that his brother has made since the war and both brothers lament that neither of their parents lived to see that recovery. The same incident is the basis for another story Mori had written in 1943 titled " The Travelers ." "The …

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Unfinished Message (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Motherhood
  • Available

Seemingly autobiographical story by Toshio Mori about his mother and brother. The story begins in 1945 in Topaz , where the author's mother can't sleep one night because of anxiety about her son, who is serving in Europe. She later finds out that he was wounded in battle that night. Later, they arrange for his transfer to a hospital in the U.S, deciding on one near the family home in California. When they leave camp and return home, she is able to visit him at the hospital. However, she later dies in her sleep before her son is released. After her death, the author and his brother hear tapping on the window of the room in which she died, which they interpret as her message to them. Written by Mori in 1947, the story was first published in his 1979 short story collection, The Chauvinist and Other Stories and reprinted …

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Maybe (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Capitalism – effect on the individual, Necessity of work, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story by Wakako Yamauchi about a middle-aged Japanese American woman working in a sweatshop with a group of undocumented immigrant workers from Latin America. Divorced after twenty-five years of marriage, Florence wanders into a garment factory with a help wanted sign and is hired on the spot and given a relatively responsible position despite her lack of qualifications due to what she thinks is the owners' stereotype about "Japanese." In her first person voice, she introduces various workers as well as the owner's much younger Colombian immigrant wife who takes an immediate disliking to her. She befriends a young couple who were forced to leave their young son back in Mexico and are unable to bring him to the U.S.; the husband semi-jokingly asks Florence to marry him so that he can get a green card. At the end of the story she recalls her and her family's confinement …

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Sundown in Topaz (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Losing hope, Self-preservation
  • Limited availability

Short story about an Issei man in Topaz during the time of the loyalty questionnaire . Shojiro Mikawa, a grandfather from Hiroshima, is incarcerated in Topaz with his family. His close friend, Tanimoto, is among those in the camp who is organizing resistance to the questionnaire. He attends a meeting led by Tanimoto that advocates refusing to answer the questionnaire. However an informant at the meeting has reported to the camp administration the names of all who attended. Called before the camp director, Mikawa is ordered to tell what he knows about the organization of the meeting or else be sent to Tule Lake and thus separated from his family.

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When Your Body Has Been Rolled in Thorns (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Facing reality, Loss of innocence, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Short story by Ferris Takahashi about a Japanese American family leaving a concentration camp to return to their old home in Los Angeles. Told from the perspective of a college educated Nisei husband and father of two young children, the story begins as they gather up their possessions and prepare to leave the camp. Yosh, a friend who had returned earlier and was able to reestablish his business, greets them at the train station. When they return to their home, they find it trashed and vandalized, with all the furniture gone. They also learn that the Buddhist temple in which they had stored other possessions had burned down. Yosh and his family offer to put them up until they can fix their house. Returning to look more closely at the house after dinner, the man and his Issei mother find racist graffiti. His mother assures him that they will rebound.

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When the World Winds Down (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Isolation, Lost love
  • Limited availability

Short story by Sharon Hashimoto about a watch repairman who fixes a gold watch brought in by a young man who reminds him of his late brother. Fred Fujita is one of the last remaining Nisei businessmen in the old Japanese section of Seattle. Agreeing to fix the gold watch at the end of one day, he decides to work on it at home, observing that his late wife would have objected to his doing so. While working on the watch, he recalls his brother Jimmy—the night at Heart Mountain when the seventeen-year-old Jimmy tells him he is going to enlist, trying to talk him out of it, and receiving word that he is missing in action.

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Homecoming (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Love and sacrifice, Motherhood, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

Short story by Toshio Mori about an Issei woman's first visit with her son Mamoru after he has been severely wounded in combat as a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team . "Homecoming" takes the form of a story told in the woman's first person voice to her grandchildren. It is one of several stories by Mori featuring the same woman published in the Pacific Citizen between 1949 and 1952 that later became the basis of his novel Woman from Hiroshima , published in 1978. The first half of the story is about her efforts to see her son after being allowed to leave Topaz to return to the West Coast . She is at first dismayed to learn that he has been moved to a military hospital in Auburn, California, known to be a hotbed of anti-Japanese racism. Arriving in Auburn, they see numerous anti-Japanese signs and are …

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My Friend Suki (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Facing darkness
  • Widely available

Short story by Vera Arvey about a Nisei woman whose wartime incarceration along with a run of familial tragedies lead to a breakdown and residence in a mental hospital. The narrator of the story begins by sending a Christmas present to Suki, but doesn't hear back for several weeks, when she gets a notice that Suki has been sent to a mental hospital. Through correspondence with various friends and her own recollections, she pieces together the story starting with Suki's Issei parents' immigration, the impact of exclusion and incarceration, the string of events leading to her current state, and Suki's most recent, hopeful, letter.

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An American Christmas (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Family – blessing or curse, Immigrant experience, Motherhood, Working class struggles
  • Available

Short story by Alice Nash centering on an elderly Issei woman in contemporary New York. As she struggles to carry a bag of rice home to her apartment, she reflects on her arrival in New York with her late husband after leaving the concentration camp and the kind Yamaguchi family who put them up while refusing to take money from them. They eventually opened a cleaning shop that helped pay for their only son's college education. A successful businessman in California, the son takes her on a trip every year, but largely keeps her away from her grandchildren due to his white wife's discomfort with her. When she gets back to her apartment, the family of the building's supervisor, the Gonzalez family, invites her to their home to help decorate their Christmas tree.

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The Flower Girls (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Heartbreak of betrayal, Loss of innocence, Optimism – power or folly, Progress – real or illusion
  • Available

Short story by Lawson Fusao Inada . Two girls named Cherry and Rose—dubbed the "flower girls" by their teacher—become best friends as first and second graders in Portland, Oregon, just prior to World War II. They play at each other's houses after school and explore each other's neighborhood, though both agree that Cherry's—the Japantown area known as Shita Machi—is more interesting. But the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor drives a wedge between them, and Cherry and her family are soon sent away. While the girls exchange a few letters, they soon lose touch. Switching to the present, the narrator writes about a new Cherry and Rose, who meet to play in the Japanese garden of a Portland park.

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One with the Angels (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Death – inevitable or tragedy, Facing darkness, Loss of innocence, Power of the past
  • Limited availability

Short story by Yachiyo Uehara about a young woman's death shortly after leaving the concentration camps. The story begins in the present when Saye sees an editorial cartoon in a Japanese American newspaper that laments the fact that the $20,000 reparations payments advocated by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) would be too late for many former inmates. She then recalls her younger sister Yoko's story and how even a fraction of that money might have changed its course. Imprisoned in Heart Mountain with her family, Yoko leaves for New York City in 1944 and soon finds a good job and a nice apartment. The widowed Saye and her young son soon join Yoko and have a joyous reunion and initially enjoy their new life. But a demanding job and active social life—including an ill-fated lover affair—drain Yoko, and she is soon diagnosed with tuberculosis, which …

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Nakamura Comes Home (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Evils of racism, Injustice, Totalitarianism
  • Widely available

Short story about the return of a Nisei veteran to his California hometown by Henry H. Hayden. Kido Nakamura, with his chest full of medals and a limp due to a war wound, returns to Bonneville, where he had grown up as an orphan, and been on his own since age fourteen, until his forced removal to Tanforan . From camp, he joined the 442nd and served in Europe. He stops first at the hotel where he used to live and work, but a former co-worker tells him that the new owners are unwelcoming. He walks through he town, seeing racist signs, tangible evidence of anti-Japanese sentiment. Walking out to a farm he thinks he can get a job at, he is harassed by drunks and ponders his future in the town.

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Memories of Pop (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Family – blessing or curse, Forgiveness
  • No availability

Short story by Jiro Saito about a young college dropout Sansei returning home to San Diego for the funeral of his estranged father. Written in the first person voice of Mas Mayeda, it is set in around 1960. As the story begins, Mas gets a call from his sister Rose informing him of their father's death. Disowned by his father after dropping out of UC Berkeley's engineering program to become a writer, Mas had not seen the family in three years. Upon his return, Rose tells him that their father, though stubborn, indicated that he wanted Mas to return. Before the funeral, Mas sees old family photos that tell their story: his parents' wedding in 1927 (his Issei father married a Nisei woman from San Diego); a successful farm; his father becoming a community leader; his father's subsequent arrest after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the family's removal and …

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And There Are Stories, There Are Stories (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Coming of age, Power of the past, Self – inner and outer
  • Available

Prose poem memoir by Momoko Iko that traces her family's journey out of the concentration camps and her subsequent upbringing away from Japanese American communities on the West Coast. She begins with her birth in 1940 to Issei parents, her fleeting recollections of her family's incarceration, and life after the war, first in Philadelphia, then Chicago . Various stories centering on racism, racial identity, interracial relations, and the legacy of the camps in the 1950s and 1960s follow, tracing the narrator's journey to becoming a writer.

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Heiji (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Female roles, Injustice, Power of the past
  • No availability

Short story by Jeff Tsuyoshi Matsuda about a disheveled elderly Nisei widower who goes to a empty field in his Westchester, California, neighborhood every day for reasons that no one can figure out. In slowly revealing the reason for his quest, Heiji Taguma's wartime family history is revealed. His family had farmed twenty acres in the area before the war, but lost their crops and their farm in the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Heiji's father Masu was among the Issei arrested by the FBI and was taken to the Bismarck , North Dakota internment camp, eventually rejoining his family at Manzanar . But he returned a broken man: while Heiji resettled in Chicago , he refused to leave Manzanar and died there just after the end of the war. Heiji's odd ritual seemed to have been triggered by the death of his wife Keiko, who …

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The Summer of '43 (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Individual versus society, Working class struggles
  • Limited availability

Short story centering on Akira Koyama, a Nisei man who has left an unspecified concentration camp to attend college in Utah. There, he stubbornly tries to find a summer job in the face of rampant discrimination. After being turned down for a draftsman position because of his ancestry, he visits a laundry owned by an acquaintance's family in search of other leads. Meanwhile, Dale, a white navy veteran and one of his college roommates, suffers from stomach pains that resemble appendicitis. Akira accompanies him to the hospital and waits as Dale has successful surgery. After a conversation with the doctor, Akira is offered a job at the hospital.

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Home in the West (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Evils of racism, Individual versus society, Injustice, Loss of innocence, Totalitarianism
  • Widely available

Short story recounting the return to California by Hirosho Yugi and his wife after their incarceration at Heart Mountain . His initial happiness is dulled when a group of neighbors try to force him out, first by burning down a shed and throwing rocks through windows, then by the burning down of their house. The day after their house is torched, they receive a telegram informing them of the death of their son in combat in Italy.

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Sushi (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Loss of innocence, Power of the past, Coming of age
  • Limited availability

Short story by Rei Noguchi about a young Japanese American girl who learns about the wartime incarceration from an Issei woman neighbor. It is a cold New Year's Eve in Dover, New Jersey, and Maya Okano has been dispatched by her parents to return a plate to a woman they call Grandmother Okamoto. The older woman, who is making sushi for New Year's, is happy to see the girl and serves her tea. Maya tells Grandmother Okamoto that she doesn't like sushi or Japanese food in general, preferring "American" food. Grandmother Okamoto sends Maya into the bedroom to fetch a can of nori from the dresser; when she does, she sees a little shrine on the dresser and the photograph of a young man in military uniform in front of barracks. When Maya asks, Grandmother Okamoto tells her about her son, who was killed fighting (presumably in the 442nd Regimental …

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